I have one role model in life: Martin Luther King, Jr.
His struggles with injustice, prejudice, religion, and freedom are both awe-inspiring and human. One of the greatest men that ever lived was also just another man, like you and me. Below is one of my favorite speeches from him. You can relate to every word if you’ve ever faced any kind of discrimination, if you’re any kind of minority, if you’ve ever had to fight to be who you are.
I’ve include a link to a voice recording of the speech, but you get a better sense of its power by reading it.
“Deep in my heart I do believe, we shall overcome.
Now I join hands often with students and others behind jail bars singing it: ‘We shall overcome.’
Sometimes we’ve had tears in our eyes when we joined together to sing it, but we still decided to sing it! ‘We shall overcome.’
Lord before this victory is won some will have to get thrown in jail some more but we shall over come. Don’t worry about us, before the victory is won some of us will lose jobs, but we shall overcome.
Before the victory is won, even some will have to face physical death. But if physical death is the price that some must pay, to free their children from a permanent psychological death, then nothing shall be more redemptive. We shall over come.
Before the victory is won, some will be misunderstood and called bad names and dismissed as rebel-rousers and agitators, But we shall overcome.
And I’ll tell you why.
We shall overcome because the arch of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.
We shall overcome because Carlyle is right: ‘No lie can live forever.’
We shall overcome because William Collin Bryant is right: ‘Truth crushed to earth will rise again.’
We shall overcome because James Russel Lowell is right: ‘Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne. Yet that scaffold sways the future. And behind the dim unknown standeth God within the shadows, keeping watch above his own.’
We shall overcome because the Bible is right, ‘You shall reap what you sow.’
We shall overcome. Deep in my heart I do believe! We shall overcome.
And this with this faith we will go out and adjourn the counsels of despair and bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism and we will be able to rise from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope. And this will be a great America! We will be the participants in making it so.
And so as I leave you this evening I say, ‘Walk together children! Don’t you get weary!'”
If you want to listen to it, click here.